Everyone gets hit playing Chi sau. If you are not getting hit you need better partners. What you want to develop is a lower exchange rate. That is you earn hits more often than you deserve hits. If you find yourself getting caught by the same attacks repeatedly you are likely violating one or more of the following 7 recommendations.
1) Don't roll with jerks
Rolling should be a mutually beneficial learning experience. There are multiple cooperative, semi-cooperative, and uncooperative levels to it but you need to make sure both partners are on the same page. At all levels you should expect some contact but, if your partner is intending to play rougher than you are, call them on it, let your teacher know, or just don't roll with them. Shunning is a powerful, peaceful tool for behavioral modification in society.
If you are a jerk, cut it out. You will hit a plateau you cannot escape from if no one will roll with you, that is, if you are allowed to stay in a school at all.
2) Go slow, Learn fast
Roll slower. Slow leads to smooth, smooth leads to fast. Plus, you need to take time to analyze things so you are not just ingraining a failing strategy. Rolling should be a game of faster/more efficient corrections and controls more than it is a "haha i hit you first" game. I personally get greater satisfaction from the good attacks I take off more than the attacks I land in Chi sau. Speed should be slowly increased over time.
3) Maintain Basic Alignments
Remember your basic alignments and employ them. There are good reasons for all of the alignments that are stressed when you first learn to roll. Deviating from these create openings that may be used against you.
-The Wrists are towards the centerline.
-Bong/taan rotates around the wrist.
-The elbow is in except for during Bong Sau.
-Your Taan sau should point towards your partner's throat or chin.
Face your partner squarely. This is a major part of your Basic Alignments but merits mention by itself. Your centerline should point to your partners core line/vertical axis. This will keep your tools in range for use and prevent many incoming attacks from coming to fruition.
5)Don't push without specific intention
Pushing in any direction (or pulling for that matter) without a good plan or the proper gift from your partner gives your partner control over you. When in doubt do not feed extra energy to your partner. They are already trying to hit you. Don't help them out.
You are going to get hit. If you are in proper position but tense, you will get hit. If you are in proper position and relaxed, you will also get hit. Just accept it. BUT having unnecessary tension in your body will only make this happen MORE. Lower your exchange rate and give yourself an opportunity to roll with the punches you do take by relaxing. If your partner is moving you out of good alignment, do not try to use muscle tension to maintain proper positioning. Yield and transition to another good position or take advantage of the misalignment and hit them. If you are tight your sensitivity and reaction time will be impaired.
7) Cycle the Hand
Defending or not defending an incoming strike is often a question of whether or not you cycled your hand. Your partners will often be pulling your hands down to prevent your defense. Don't struggle with this but stay relaxed and be ready to cycle your hand up as soon as it is free. If you have a free hand without a specific job, it should be in or heading towards Wu Sau position. Train hand cycling for speed and fluidity.
Chi sau should be a fun learning experience. As a live action puzzle it offers immediate feedback for building intuitive solutions. If you keep finding bad answers to the positions and attacks you find yourself against, turn back to these 7 ideas and you will likely find your solution or will stop giving an opening altogether.
Keep in mind that Chi sau can be run across a full spectrum of contact levels from no-contact to full contact with gear on. This is part of the great value of chi sau. "Hits" don't always have to be "hits". They can be touches or completely pulled strikes that were just obviously capable of having landed. You can get "hit" this way many more times and have many more learning opportunities with fewer injuries compared to other training methods.
Sifu Nick Edmonds
Red Light Wing Chun Phoenix, Arizona
There are many ways to address the topic of range for hand-to-hand fighting. However, if you cannot understand the general, the specific will be useless.
Fighting applications from the 2nd section of the Wing Chun Dummy Form.
In this video, David helps Sifu Nick demonstrate an unexpected use for Bong Sau.